The review of Oslo, a film with Andrew Scott and Ruth Wilson that reconstructs the secret negotiations that culminated in the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine, arriving on Sky Cinema Uno and Now from 24 September.
What really happened during the secret meetings that resulted in the 1993 Oslo Accords between the Israeli state and the Palestine Liberation Organization led by Yasser Arafat? JT Rogers first tried to tell us about it with his Tony award-winning piéce river that found its way to the screen thanks to HBO and director Bartlett Sher. As ours points out review of Oslo, the theatrical imprint is also present in Sher’s work that prefers interior scenes and invites his interpreters to a marked gestural recitation.
While the action is divided between Israel, London and Oslo, between restaurants, hotels and luxurious diplomatic homes, the opening of Oslo, which differs in tone and setting from the rest of the film, takes place in the war-torn Palestinian streets where the protagonist Mona Juul (Ruth Wilson), a member of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, witnesses the confrontation between a young Israeli soldier and a Palestinian peer. After their stay in the Middle East, Mona and her husband Terje Rød-Larsen (Andrew Scott), in turn a diplomat and sociologist, decide to try the path of mediation by favoring a series of secret meetings between representatives of the PLO and the Israeli state in neutral territory with the support of the Norwegian Foreign Minister Johan Jørgen Holst. After months of negotiations, the result will be the Oslo Accords, unveiled to the public in 1993.
What matters is the dialogue
Switching from one medium to another is never a walk in the park. In the case of Oslo, which sees Steven Spielberg and Marc Platt among the producers, the situation is even more complex. The playwright JT Rogers first and the director Bartlett Sher then found themselves in a subject that was not at all easy to deal with. Spectacularizing and making the long and delicate process of negotiations that led the representatives of two countries at war, full-blown enemies, to speak and treat each other as equals, accessible to the general public was not easy. Oslo therefore plays on the characterization of the characters, thanks to two talented performers such as the English Andrew Scott and Ruth Wilson in the roles of Terje Rød-Larsen and Mona Juul. To support them, a heterogeneous group of actors to interpret the representatives of the PLO and Israel involved in the negotiations.
Oslo’s wager is to show how simple human beings are hidden behind the rigor of institutional roles and the opposition between political factions. This is the meaning of the rule imposed by Terje Rød-Larsen. In the negotiating room made available in Oslo, it is not allowed to enter anyone other than the two parties involved, but in the rest of the house there is no conflict and everyone, Israelis, Palestinians and Norwegians, is asked to eat, drink, sometimes even getting drunk and chatting together to get to know each other better. In this perspective, the interpretation of the actors should also be read, ready to show off their weaknesses. In this practice, the versatile and histrionic Andrew Scott sometimes appears a little over the top, especially when compared with the emotional intensity that lies behind the composure of his colleague Ruth Wilson, the true soul of the film.
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From theater to cinema, adaptation strategies
In an attempt to bring the viewer closer to the narrated material, Oslo adopts a style that often tends to dilute the drama into humor, also a legacy of the play. To the gaffes and moments of embarrassment involving the character of Andrew Scott, called to stem any possible diplomatic incident in the bud, we must add the characterizations of the two parties involved, on the one hand Salim Dau and Waleed Zuaiter in the role of the heads of the negotiations on behalf of the PLO, on the other hand the Israeli economics professors Dov Glickman and Rotem Keinan joined by Jeff Wilbusch in the role of the director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Uri Savir, with a Matrix look and a decisive attitude. Between dinners based on Norwegian delicacies, booze, jokes and an inordinate enthusiasm for waffles, the cast is faced with the swing of emotions contained in the script, passing in a few moments from anger to joviality.
Without going into the technicalities of the negotiations that led to the creation of a Palestinian authority with the task of self-governing Jericho and the Gaza Strip, Oslo points straight to the heart of the matter. The aim of the film is to convey a fundamental message for its authors: without dialogue there is no knowledge and without knowledge there can be no peace. The director, who uses tricks such as color filters to differentiate the locations (dusty and sepia tones for the Middle East, cold colors for Northern Europe) and scenes walk-and-talk outdoors to give a more cinematic look, he prepares from the beginning the appearance of the Foreign Minister of Israel Simon Perez, who appears shortly before the finle inviting both parties to abandon the complaints of the past and “find a way to live in the present”. Message valid today more than ever given that the Middle Eastern question, after almost thirty years, is far from resolved.
The Oslo review evokes the theatrical origin of the HBO film which reconstructs the path that led to the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine, but also highlights its efforts to break away from pure text towards a more cinematic dimension thanks to Andrew’s interpretations. Scott and Ruth Wilson. Despite a few moments over the top, due to the alternation of tones between humor and drama, the message of the film arrives clear and strong.
Because we like it
- The desire to tell a little-known story framed in a very current drama such as the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
- The couple formed by Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott, always effective.
- The dramatic tones softened by comic moments …
- … pass that for. in some cases, it happens too abruptly.
- Some characterizations of the characters are a little over the top.
- Directorial choices are not always effective.